6 Types of Mustang Horses & Their History

By Alberto Roy

Updated on:

Mustangs are synonymous with the American Wild West. But did you know that there are many types of Mustang horses?

Six types of Mustang horses are found in America: the Pryor Mountains Mustang, Kiger Mustang and Cerbat Mustang. The Spanish Mustang, Chincoteague Pony and Colonial Spanish Mustang. Each horse has its own unique characteristics.

Mustangs are the descendants of Spanish horses were brought to America in the 1500s. Although the original Mustangs were Colonial Spanish Horses, over hundreds of years other types and breeds of horses have been added. Different breeding populations resulted, and each horse was unique.

Mustang Horses, though they are sometimes called wild horses, are actually feral horses because they are descendants from once domesticated horses.

Mustang Horses 1

Types of Mustang Horses

There are many organizations that manage horses that roam free in America, including the Burea of Land Management, Forest Service, National Parks and Tribal Lands, as well as State-Owned.

These are just a few of the Mustang horses that are distinctive for their place, color, and heritage.

Pryor Mountain Mustang

Pryor Mountain Mustang

Montana’s Pryor Mountain Mustangs are found in the Pryor Mountains. They are considered to be the most pure mustangs. They are closely related to the original Spanish horses brought to America.

Although not much information is available about the history of Pryor Mountain Mustangs, it is believed they have been in the area since the 1700s. You can find them in many colors, including bay, black and grulla.

Pryor Mountain Mustangs are between 13 and 14 hands tall. Their strong and muscular build is characterized by a long tail and mane, as well as a Roman nose.

These horses are intelligent and have great stamina. Some even have a walking gait. The horses of the Pryor Mountain range are managed by the BLM.

Kiger Mustang

Kiger Mustang

The Kiger Mustang might be familiar to you from the classic film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. __S.23__

Kiger Mustangs are known for their distinctive dun color with dorsal strips, but they can also be other colors. Kigers are between 13 and 16 inches tall, weigh 700 to 800 pounds, and measure 13.2-16 inches in height.

Kigers have a classic Barb head with a compact, muscular body and well-groomed neck.

Kigers are athletic and strong horses with friendly personalities. They are excellent riding horses in both English and western disciplines. The Kiger Mustang herds are currently managed by the BLM.

Cerbat Mustang

Cerbat Mustang

The Cerbat Mustang is a Spanish-ancestry horse that can be found in Arizona. Although they are very rare, many people love their beautiful appearance. Many say they look like Andalusian horses.

Cerbat horses can weigh anywhere from 750 to 800 pounds and are between 14-16 inches tall. They are usually bay in color but can also be strawberry or blue roans, gray and sorrel, and dun.

Cerbat Mustangs are strong and refined, and have amazing strength and endurance. The Cerbat Mustang herd is managed by the BLM.

Spanish Mustang

Spanish Mustangs are the direct descendants of the first Spanish horses to be found in America. Although they may be confused with the BLM’s feral horses, the Mustangs are distinct in appearance and ancestry.

The Spanish Mustang is part of the larger Colonial Spanish horse group, which is rare. Although Spanish Mustangs were once a prominent breed, their numbers began to decline in the 20th century.

People started to notice the need to conserve their horses and began to draw them from wild herds, Native American herds, and ranch stock.

Spanish Mustangs are between 13.2-15 inches tall and weigh between 650-1100 pounds. Their smooth, muscular bodies are characterized by a well-defined neck, well-defined backs, straight or convex heads and a wide range of colors.

They are versatile horses because of their athleticism and willingness for service. English and western riding disciplines.

Colonial Spanish Mustang

Colonial Spanish Mustang

Experts believe Colonial Spanish Mustang is a mix of Spanish Barb, Arabian, and Andalusian breeds. They have five lumbar vertebrae, instead of the six that are typical for domestic horses.

Two Colonial Spanish Mustang herds currently exist in America: the Corolla Wild Horses (Banker) and the Shackelford ponies (Banker). These Native North American horses Explore North Carolina’s Outer Banks beaches.

The Colonial Spanish Mustangs are approximately 12-13 inches tall and have athletic build. These ponies are tough and some can even walk naturally. Horses are managed by the National Park Service and the state of North Carolina.

Chincoteague Pony

Legend has it that the Chincoteague ponies are descendants from Spanish horses who fled a shipwreck off Virginia’s coast. These ponies are a symbol of the Assateague Islands and Chincoteague Islands where they have successfully adapted to their unique environment.

These ponies are small but sturdy and weigh in at around 850 pounds. They can be found in almost every color and pattern of coat.

We have already mentioned in our Wild Chincoteague Ponies Guide. Their bellies can often appear bloated as they drink twice the water of other horses. Because of the high salt content in their vegetation, this is normal.

The famous team penning is a swimming event where ponies swim from Assateague Island towards Chincoteague Island every year. Each year, the foals are auctioned before the mares or stallions return home to Assateague.

Horses on the Virginia side are managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, while horses on Maryland’s side are managed by the National Parks Service.

Mustang Horse Profile

Mustang Horse Breed

The mustang is versatile, intelligent, hardy and intelligent. The true American breed is a great partner for riding.

Overview of Breeds

WEIGHT: 800 Pounds

HEIGHT : 14-15 hands

BODY TYPE : Stocky and hardy

BEST FOR: Ranch work and trail riding

LIFE EXPECTANCY : Maximum 40 years

Mustang Horse History and Origins

Today, wild mustangs can be found in the west United States. These mustangs are descendants of Spanish horses brought to America by European settlers. Some horses were freed or escaped, while others were traded for or captured by Native Americans.

Mustang Horse History and Origins

The escapee horses became herds and then lived in the wild. Slowly, they were pushed West by the encroaching development of this country.

Wild mustangs grew in number, but as the country became more settled and ranchers looked for land to graze their cattle, the problem of an ever-increasing population was created.

There were up to two million mustangs living in America in the 1900s. It is estimated that there are currently 30,000 mustangs.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act protected mustangs from being harassed and poisoned. However, it also allowed for the population to increase.

To manage the population, the Bureau of Land Management began to round up and adopt mustangs.

Mustang Horse Size

Mustangs are smaller horses and can typically be found at between 14 and 15 hands in height and 800 pounds.

Uses and Breeding

Mustangs are wild-bred and face overpopulation. Therefore, captive breeding programs are not in use. These horses can be used for trail riding, ranch work and dressage.

Markings and Colors

There are many coat options for Mustangs. Most are bay and chestnut but there are also black, grey and pinto coat colors.

Unique Characteristics of Mustang Horse Breed

Characteristics of Mustang Horse

Because of its wild heritage, the mustang is well-known for being strong and agile. Because they are able to navigate terrains that other breeds may have difficulty with, these qualities make mustangs great as trail horses or working horses.

Diet and Nutrition

Mustangs are resilient. They can survive in the wild on grass and brush. They are easy to keep in captivity because of this.

Owners may have to limit a mustang’s access and use of lush pasture because overgrazing can lead to obesity and other problems like founder.

Common Health- and Behavior Problems

Mustangs are tough and have strong hooves. They are generally quite healthy.

The horse’s training and background can influence the horses behavior. If a mustang has been adopted and has not had any handling, it will likely be reactive and scared.

With proper training, mustangs can become calm and well-mannered if they are given the opportunity to trust humans.


There are no grooming requirements for Mustangs. Regular grooming and currying will benefit their coat health. They have strong hooves but regular hoof care is important for their health.


  • Hardy and surefooted
  • Intelligent
  • There are many horses for adoption


  • Taller riders may not be able to ride smaller horses.
  • Horses that are not properly handled will need significant training

Champion and Celebrity Mustang Horses

Many mustangs are well-known:

  • After being adopted, Cobra showed great talent in dressage. In 2015, he won the Freestyle Western Dressage Level 1 World Championship and was named USEF Horses of the Year in Western Dressage.
  • Elisa Wallace adopted Hwin. They competed together in the 2015 Mustang Magic Makeover, and Breyer created a model horse named after Hwin.

Is the Mustang right for you?

Because mustangs can be ridden by smaller riders, they are often better suited to smaller riders. They are versatile and can be used for many different activities and disciplines.

Mustang temperaments range from being hot and reactive to cooperative and calm. It’s important to make sure that you choose the right horse for your needs and experience.

How to Adopt a Mustang or Buy One

To ensure that horses are able to survive on the land, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), adopts mustangs each year. Start by reading the BLM adoption requirements if you are interested in adopting a mustang.

To be allowed to adopt, you will need to meet certain requirements regarding the type of fencing, facility, or horse trailer that is available.

Remember that these horses are not handled. They will require training in everything, from halter breaking to riding.

Private sellers often have mustangs available for sale. These horses might be already trained to ride. Mustangs are a less expensive breed, and they can be found all across the country.

It’s a good idea for horse owners to conduct a pre-purchase examination to determine if there are any health problems that might affect horse performance.

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